Information for Prospective Graduate Students (click to expand)

My work covers a relatively broad range of topics within physical anthropology, but I am most interested in working with students who want to investigate evolutionary questions through the quantification and analysis of morphological variation. I'm open to a wide range of research questions, and the variation under study could be in size, shape, and/or form; fossil and/or extant primates (including humans); postcrania and/or crania; adults and/or ontogenetic series. While I am potentially interested in working with students who want to conduct morphometric studies of living primate populations in the field, my expertise and experience is in skeletal morphology (but not forensics!). I tend to favor the inclusion of comparative taxa in analyses, and any dissertation project that I supervised would likely include a comparative extant sample, even if the primary questions relate to fossil hominins. Ideally a student who comes to work with me will have an interest in understanding and further developing quantitative methodologies, but at the very least an incoming student would be expected to take courses in quantitative methods and acquire a basic understanding of a broad array of analytical techniques appropriate to biological anthropology. If this sounds appealing to you, read on.

If you'd like to apply to work with me, I would recommend contacting me sometime in the fall semester to talk about your interests and about whether this is the right program, and whether I am the right advisor, for you to do the kind of dissertation project that you want to do. If so, I'd encourage you to apply as early as possible so that your application can be considered for funding. Applications to the Ph.D. program that are submitted by January 15th will be considered for funding for the academic year starting the following fall, and I would suggest that you get your complete application to UAlbany by January 1st so that it makes it from the grad office to the Department of Anthropology by the beginning of our spring semester. Also, we have both an M.A. and a Ph.D. program. If you want to get a Ph.D. here, make sure that you apply for the Ph.D. program even if you have not yet received a Master's degree because only students in the Ph.D. program are eligible for funding. You'll earn your M.A. along the way. Further information about applying can be found at the UAlbany graduate admissions site (www.albany.edu/graduate), and information specific to the Anthropology graduate program can be found here. If you think you might want to apply to work with me but aren't sure, feel free to drop me a line.

Contact Information:

Department of Anthropology
University at Albany - SUNY
Arts & Sciences Building, Room 237
1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222

phone: 518-442-4772
email: agordon [at] albany.edu

Current Students

  • Sara Magee
    Ph.D. student, Phase I

    Research Interests: I’m predominantly interested in functional morphology of mammals and their morphological responses to anthropogenic stressors; in other words, I would like to focus my research on how the severity of human influence on animal communities impacts their physical and behavioral adaptations. I am also interested in museum work and conservation, and have previously worked at the NJ State Museum in the Paleontology Lab. I would like to utilize my research of human-environment interactions to emphasize the importance of ecological conservation, and also to raise awareness and education through museum collaborations.
  • Antonio Otero
    Ph.D. student, Phase II

    Research Interests: I am interested in functional morphology and locomotion of primates and hominins. Specifically, I am interested in the relationship between skeletal morphology and locomotion, and the ways in which skeletal morphology has adapted to different locomotor repertoires.
  • Jerred Schafer
    Ph.D. student, in candidacy

    Research Interests: My research broadly examines micro- and macroevolutionary processes in primates using phylogenetic and quantitative genetic methods. My masters thesis research examined the relationship between several genetic and life history variables (brain & body size, and gestation length) and basal metabolic rate in primates using a phylogenetic path analysis. Current research involves estimating genetic variances and correlations in traits related to sexual selection (facial coloration & body size) in a semi-free ranging population of mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) from Gabon, Africa to measure the processes of natural and sexual selection.

Former Ph.D. Students

  • Dr. Amanda Spriggs
    Ph.D., 2017

    Ph.D. dissertation: Evolution of lemur pelage color variation
    Research Interests: I am interested in better understanding visual signals that primates use and the selection pressures that act on the presence or absence of these signals. My disseration research explored if and how lemurs use visual signals in pelage to communicate quality to conspecifics, identity to congenerics, and to camouflage from predators. To address my research questions, I use digital photography to quantify and analyze coloration of museum preserved lemur skins. In order to accurately explore primate coloration, it is important to also understand primate visual systems. Like many platyrrhines, lemurs experience polymorphic trichromacy, which results in all males and some females being functionally color blind and some females possessing trichromacy (the ability to distinguish between red, green, and blue). I am interested in understanding the selection pressures that have driven and maintain this variation, and in determining if reproductive success is linked with certain visual systems.

Former M.A. Students

  • Tara Covert
    M.A., 2018

    M.A. thesis: Influences on locomotion and dietary variation in primates
  • Elaine Wilcox
    M.A., 2018

    M.A. thesis: Climate based midface morphology: where do Neanderthals fit?